As with most jobs in the healthcare industry, training does not end with your initial qualification. There are always plenty of opportunities for career development and advancement. Dental nursing is no exception.
If you're a dental nurse wondering how to progress your career, you may welcome some guidance. So, as a dental nurse, what are your career opportunities and is there any scope for development?
Dental nurse career opportunities
Once you are fully qualified, there are a wide range of career opportunities to explore as a dental nurse. With both full-time and part-time positions available in a variety of settings, including general dental practice, hospitals and community settings, it’s down to you to forge the career of your dreams.
You may opt to pursue further training so you can undertake additional responsibilities including oral health education, radiography and conscious sedation.
One pathway you might like to consider is locum dental nursing. Signing up with a locum dental nurse agency could see you applying for jobs in general practice, dental hospitals, mobile dental surgeries or even in the armed forces. There are plenty of advantages to being a locum dental nurse too, including increased flexibility in the shifts you work, the chance to operate in different settings to increase your knowledge and at times, higher pay rates.
Some companies even employ their own in-house dental departments, although these are becoming increasingly few and far between.
Dental nursing career development
Once you have gained enough experience as a dental nurse, you may be curious about the different careers you can chart.
Dental nursing certainly doesn’t come with a glass ceiling. The possibilities for dental nurse career development are wide ranging and certainly worth pursuing if you’re committed to the role.
Advancing into an oral health practitioner role is a popular path for dental nurses to tread. Training towards becoming a dental hygienist, dental therapist or orthodontic therapist are excellent options if you are looking to develop your skills. Progressing as a senior dental nurse or stepping into management or teaching are also routes to consider.
Dental hygienists play a vital role in helping prevent oral problems from arising and carry out essential procedures such as scaling and polishing teeth, as well as applying topical fluoride and fissure sealants.
Hygienists based in a hospital can also be required to help patients who are having surgery or complicated orthodontic treatment, as well as those with particular medical conditions, to maintain a healthy mouth and oral care routine.
Dental therapists are able to carry out much of the same work as dentists without the need for referral. This often means performing routine check-ups, freeing up dentists to take on more advanced tasks. However, it is a line of work that can also see you tend to patients who have high treatment needs, special needs or dental anxiety.
This is a role that is becoming more and more popular in dental practices and is seen as an important part of the future of NHS dental care.
Through locum post-qualification experience and further training, a dental nurses can work as an orthodontic therapist. In this role you can assist dentists in carrying out orthodontic treatment and provide some aspects of the treatment yourself.
The job also requires you to assist patients in emergency situations by relieving pain or making sure that appliances are safe to use.
Senior roles, management and education
Of course, if you prefer working as a dental nurse, it is possible to progress to more senior roles. Choosing this option gives you the change to specialise in areas such as orthodontics, implants or even oral surgery. There’s also scope to move into management by becoming a dental nurse team leader or practice manager.
Teaching is another path that you can pursue. Experienced dental nurses are able to take up educational roles in order to impart their vast knowledge to new trainee dental nurses. Such roles can even supplement your continued work as a dental nurse.
CPD for Dental Nurses
As dentistry is a medical discipline, there are advances in treatments and techniques being made all the time. Due to this evolution, dental nurses are required to do a certain amount of continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure their knowledge is up to date.
The GDC requires registered dental nurses in a five-year cycle to do 150 hours of CPD, of which 50 must be verifiable. The GDC have a number of subjects that they recommend, like keeping up to date with medical emergencies. You can do anything as long as it relates back to your job.